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Mental health law across the UK [Editorials]


The criteria governing medical treatment without consent in the three legal jurisdictions of the UK – England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – is discussed.

Newspaper depictions of mental and physical health [Original papers]


Aims and method Media portrayals of mental illness have long been recognised as being misleading and stigmatising. Following the campaigns of several advocacy groups to address this issue, we aimed to evaluate the impact on mental health reporting over time. We repeated a survey we did 15 years ago using the same methods. Nine UK daily newspapers were surveyed over a 4-week period and coded with a schema to analyse the reporting of mental health compared with physical health.

Results In total, 963 articles – 200 on mental health and 763 on physical health – were identified. Over half of the articles on mental health were negative in tone: 18.5% indicated an association with violence compared with 0.3% of articles on physical health. However, there were more quotes from patients with mental disorders than physical disorders (22.5% v. 19.7%) and an equal mention of treatment and rehabilitation.

Clinical implications Mental health in print media remains tainted by themes of violence, however some improvement in reporting in recent years is evident, in particular by providing a voice for people with mental illness.

Implementation of a novel primary care pathway for patients with severe and enduring mental illness [Original papers]


Aims and method New collaborative care models with an emphasis on primary care are required for long-term management of patients with severe and enduring mental illness (SMI). We conducted a descriptive evaluation of clinical outcomes of the first 3 years of a novel enhanced primary care (EPC) service. Data from 2818 patients and staff survey results were analysed.

Results 2310 patients were discharged to EPC (508 not assessed as clinically suitable or patients/general practitioners declined the transfer); mean length of stay with secondary care service of the cohort was 9.8 years (range 0–24). 717 patients (31%) have been discharged to primary care only out of the EPC services and 233 patients (10%) have been transferred back to secondary care. Patient and staff satisfaction with the new EPC model was high. No severe untoward incidents were recorded.

Clinical implications The data suggest that EPC can be safely provided for a significant proportion of patients with SMI, who traditionally received long-term secondary care support. The novel EPC model can be utilised as a template for the provision of cost-effective, recovery-oriented and non-stigmatising care in the community.

National survey of training of psychiatrists on advance directives to refuse treatment in bipolar disorder [Original papers]


Aims and method To determine features associated with better perceived quality of training for psychiatrists on advance decision-making in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA), and whether the quality or amount of training were associated with positive attitudes or use of advance decisions to refuse treatment (ADRTs) by psychiatrists in people with bipolar disorder. An anonymised national survey of 650 trainee and consultant psychiatrists in England and Wales was performed.

Results Good or better quality of training was associated with use of case summaries, role-play, ADRTs, assessment of mental capacity and its fluctuation. Good or better quality and two or more sessions of MCA training were associated with more positive attitudes and reported use of ADRTs, although many psychiatrists would never discuss them clinically with people with bipolar disorder.

Clinical implications Consistent delivery of better-quality training is required for all psychiatrists to increase use of ADRTs in people with bipolar disorder.

Assessing the second-hand effects of a new no-smoking policy in an acute mental health trust [Original papers]


Aims and method To examine whether a new no-smoking policy in an in-patient mental health setting had any effects outside of smoking cessation. Our hypothesis stated that a forced smoking ban for in-patients may result in an increased susceptibility for clinical incidents, aggression and lower admission rates. All patients admitted to adult in-patient mental health services in Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust were included in the analysis. Data 6 months post-implementation of the smoking policy (1 July 2015 to 1 January 2016) were compared with the same period 1 year prior (1 July 2014 to 1 January 2015). Patient demographics, admission rates, ward occupancy, average lengths of stay, numbers of reported incidents and use of the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) were compared.

Results We analysed 4223 admissions. We found a significantly increased number of admissions under the MHA (P = 0.007), a significantly greater number of reported smoking-related incidents (P < 0.001) and aggression-related incidents in the psychiatric intensive care unit (P < 0.001). However, we found no significant difference in capacity of in-patient wards (P = 0.39), admission length (P = 0.34) or total aggression-related incidents (P = 0.86).

Clinical implications Although further comparisons over longer time periods are necessary, our results suggest that enforced smoking cessation on acutely unwell psychiatric patients admitted to the most restricted environments may have some negative effects. Nicotine replacement therapy should be offered to all patients to minimise the risk of clinical incident.

A service evaluation of outcomes in two in-patient recovery units [Original papers]


Aims and method To evaluate outcomes for patients during their admission or in the first year of treatment in two in-patient recovery units. Changes in health and social functioning, service use and need (rated by patients and staff) were evaluated.

Results In 43 patients treated, there was a large (30%) increase in patients discharged to their own tenancies, rather than supported accommodation. There was minimal change in Health of the Nation Outcome Scales (HoNOS) scores in the course of the admission but staff- and patient-rated unmet needs reduced and met needs increased. Needs changed mainly in domains relating to social functioning. Reductions in risk to self and others were rated by staff but not patients. There were no cases of patients being readmitted to acute hospital during the study period.

Clinical implications Although these results offer some support to the treatment approach described in these in-patient recovery units, further research in larger samples is needed to identify how these services can best be deployed to help individuals with severe mental illness and complex needs.

Weekend new patient reviews in psychiatry: evaluation of activity over 3 months [Original papers]


Aims and method South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust developed a system of weekend new patient reviews by higher trainees to provide senior medical input 7 days a week. To evaluate the effectiveness of these reviews, the notes for all patients admitted over 3 months were examined. The mean length of stay for patients before and after the introduction of the weekend new patient reviews were compared via unpaired t-test.

Results A total of 88 patients were seen: 84.4% of patients were seen within 24 h of admission. Higher trainees instituted some changes in 78.9% of patients. The most frequent action was to modify medication, in 47.8%. The average length of stay after the introduction of weekend reviews was not significantly different.

Clinical implications Weekend reviews of newly admitted patients by higher trainees is a feasible method for providing senior input to patients admitted out of hours.

New models of care: a liaison psychiatry service for medically unexplained symptoms and frequent attenders in primary care [Original papers]


Aims and method This paper describes the process of setting up and the early results from a new liaison psychiatry service in primary care for people identified as frequent general practice attenders with long-term conditions or medically unexplained symptoms. Using a rapid evidence synthesis, we identified existing service models, mechanisms to identify and refer patients, and outcomes for the service. Considering this evidence, with local contingencies we defined options and resources. We agreed a model to set up a service in three diverse general practices. An evaluation explored the feasibility of the service and of collecting data for clinical, service and economic outcomes.

Results High levels of patient and staff satisfaction, and reductions in the utilisation of primary and secondary healthcare, with associated cost savings are reported.

Clinical implications A multidisciplinary liaison psychiatry service integrated in primary care is feasible and may be evaluated using routinely collected data.

Systematic review into factors associated with the recruitment crisis in psychiatry in the UK: students', trainees' and consultants' views [Review Article]


Aims and method To review the literature to examine the factors that may be affecting recruitment into psychiatry in the UK. We systematically searched four databases to identify studies from 1974 to 2016 and identified 27 papers that met the specified inclusion criteria.

Results Most papers (n = 24) were based on questionnaire surveys. The population in all studies comprised of 1879 psychiatrists, 6733 students and 220 746 trainees. About 4–7% of students opt for a career in psychiatry. Enrichment activities helped to attract students more towards psychiatry than just total time spent in the specialty. Job content in terms of the lack of scientific basis, poor prognosis and stigma towards psychiatry, work-related stress and problems with training jobs were common barriers highlighted among students and trainees, affecting recruitment. Job satisfaction and family-friendly status of psychiatry was rated highly by students, with lifestyle factors appearing to be important for trainees who tend to choose psychiatry.

Clinical implications Negative attitudes and stigma towards psychiatry continue to persist. Teaching and training in psychiatry needs rethinking to improve student experience and recruitment into the specialty.

Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 [Current Practice]


Mental health legislation in Northern Ireland has always been separate from legislation in the rest of the UK; the Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order (MHO) had been in place since 1986. In common with other jurisdictions, this legislation utilises the presence of mental disorder and risk as criteria for detention and involuntary treatment. The MHO has been replaced by the Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 (MCA), an example of ‘fusion’ legislation in which impairment of decision-making capacity and best interests are the only criteria to be used when making decisions across health and social care. In this paper, we outline the development of the MCA to date, and discuss its potential to improve mental healthcare by placing the treatment of mental illness within the same legislative framework as physical illnesses.

Measuring relational security in forensic mental health services [Current Practice]


Aims and method Relational security is an important component of care and risk assessment in mental health services, but the utility of available measures remains under-researched. This study analysed the psychometric properties of two relational security tools, the See Think Act (STA) scale and the Relational Security Explorer (RSE).

Results The STA scale had good internal consistency and could highlight differences between occupational groups, whereas the RSE did not perform well as a psychometric measure.

Clinical implications The measures provide unique and complimentary perspectives on the quality of relational security within secure services, but have some limitations. Use of the RSE should be restricted to its intended purpose; to guide team discussions about relational security, and services should refrain from collecting and aggregating this data. Until further research validates their use, relational security measurement should be multidimensional and form part of a wider process of service quality assessment.

Handbook of Secure Care [Reviews]